Eat More Celery

How to cope with menopause?  Easy. Eat more celery.  No – that’s not a joke. It’s actually what a female GP said to me when I reluctantly went to her for some guidance about how to cope with my menopausal symptoms.  I understand that there is no evidence that celery helps at all.  As comments go, it ranks almost as highly as being told by a male GP to give up work, stay at home and look after my son like a good mother.  This was when I had a period of depression a couple of years after he was born. That’s what we have had to deal with when trying to balance the demands of working  with our own self-care.  Needless to say, I didn’t take the advice of either.

If you are anything like me, you will only seek medical advice when things get really bad and to be fobbed off as if you are a time-waster just makes matters worse.  On both occasions I gathered myself together and sought a second opinion and thankfully got the help I needed.  Anti-depressants for  a while  many years ago and referral  a gynaecologist for my heavy periods

No matter how much information we have – and there is more out there now than ever – nothing can prepare you for the way you feel when the menopause hits. For me it was the relentless  unpredictable bleeding; the hot flushes; the sleepless nights and the feeling that I was just not functioning properly as a human being.   Combine this with demands of a professional career, the clients, management responsibilities and it’s no wonder that many of us struggle.

There were times when I thought I was actually going a little bit mad.  Sometimes I struggled to  remember things and questioned  whether I could possibly have early onset dementia.  Now that sounds rather dramatic but having had a mother-in-law who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 60 and seeing my own clients with memory problems, I considered it to be a real possibility.  

I remember an occasion when I was so tired, I fell asleep at my desk after lunch.  Imagine that scene when the current trainee  solicitor comes in to check they are giving a client the correct advice and finds their principal having a snooze.   I had a male partner at work who was regularly found laid back in his chair asleep with his feet on the desk.  Somehow that seemed perfectly acceptable but  when it happened to me, I felt like I had let the side down.  I think that comes from a background where the profession was dominated by men and I believed that I had to work harder and ‘be perfect’ to make my mark.  

Going bright red, sweating profusely and feeling the need to strip down to my underwear during a client meeting was incredibly embarrassing. So was not being able to answer a relatively simple question because I was completely focussed on the heat that was gradually creeping up my spine taking away any chance of rational thought.  Then having to  apologise and explain that ‘it’s my age’.  

So, what did I do?  I wasn’t able to have HRT for various medical reasons and so I can’t comment on whether that would have helped me or not.  I exercised when I could and tried to get proper sleep – did you know that the cold side of the pillow is menopausal woman’s best friend?  The short answer is that I muddled through the best I could.  What didn’t I do ? Eat more celery!

Author

Jayne Smith

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